New study challenges common heart care procedures

A new study shows heart procedures might not be necessary for patients with certain kinds of artery blockages.

Posted: Nov 18, 2019 6:40 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- In a new study sponsored by the National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute, researchers found that heart procedures might not be necessary for patients with certain kinds of artery blockages, particularly those already in stable condition. 

The $100 million study is the latest entry into a long argument over how to treat artery blockages.

Researchers found that invasive procedures to unclog blocked arteries, in most cases, the insertion of a stent, were less effective than medication and lifestyle changes when it came to reducing heart attacks and blockages.

The researchers claim their findings settle the question of whether stents are better for patients with stable heart disease.

Cardiologists at PeaceHealth said they have already been utilizing the tactics found in the study. 

"It confirmed that what I was already doing was the right thing. When I take care of patients with chest pain and coronary disease, my initial approach is to try to make them healthier," said Dr. David Saenger, cardiologist at PeaceHealth. 

Saenger said the results of this study should end the practice of overusing stents and bypass surgery for patients with stable heart disease. 

"It will be harder to justify the practice in other areas where some doctors are using too many stents and trying stents before medication, and we're finding out this is the trial that's confirming that," Saenger said. 

Other cardiologists at PeaceHealth said the results of this study will help their patients better understand their treatment plan for heart problems. 

"I was really happy to think, okay now I can explain to patients why taking these medicines is gonna be more beneficial than doing a procedure or putting in stents," said Dr. Sudeshna Banerjee, also a cardiologist at PeaceHealth.

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